Monday, June 23, 2008


For about the last five years I have had a small "lump" on my shoulder. No big deal, nothing serious, hardly noticeable. I had always blamed it on the fact that in my teens my Mom worked for a dermatologist, and delighted in having every mole on my body removed and biopsied. Given my skin's fondness for over-healing, keloids were often the result, and I have grown used to being slightly less than smooth. I figured the lump was nothing more than another reminder of Mom's war on skin cancer. However, this year it started getting bigger. Keloids don't do that. The lump had to go.

I made the appointment for last Thursday, and in passing mentioned it to my Mom. Suddenly her eyes began to glow. "You're going to have it removed," she said, "I'll be there." Of course, I knew my Mother wasn't coming for me -- she coming in the hopes of seeing something gross. And all at once I realized such proclivities must be genetic. How else can you explain my sister Cate's studies of forensics and love of maggot sciences? Or the people my sister Mandy hung out with in high school? (Kidding, Mandy, kidding, don't sic the undead on me.) All of it comes back to my Mom's love of the gross. And she wasn't going to miss an opportunity to get a front row seat -- especially if it involved one of her children.

For the next two days I did nothing but wonder what was within the lump. I'm counting this as a time of introspection and self-study, since it's probably the closest I'll ever get. My bet was on the keloid, but there were so many other possibilities. A cyst. A mutant mole. My unborn twin. I actually started hoping for that option, since finally there would be a child I could be absolutely positive my parents liked less than me. Of course, then I remembered who my Mother was and pictured her carrying the tiny thing around in a vial hung from her neck. Damn it. It would probably get into a better college than I did too. And don't even get me started on how much space it would take up in the Christmas letter. I would maybe get a mention as the parasite that had been holding back my lump of an unborn twin for all these years. So unfair.

I'll save you the suspense and just tell you -- it was a cyst. A big gross cyst that the dermatologist took one look at and reached for his scalpel. Unfortunately for my Mom he was also trying to set the land speed record for cyst removal. There was no time for careful contemplation of the grossness of it (and it was gross), he had bigger fish to fry. I swear, I was in an out of there in less than seven minutes. I actually walked out before the actual time of my appointment. Of course, my Mom did make time to look at the sad little thing sitting on the piece of gauze, and remark that she wanted to put it in my baby book. I think that if I had left her alone in the room for a second she probably would have. And I don't actually have a baby book.

Now that the cyst is gone I am realizing just how much I depended on it. That first day every stoplight was an exercise in pain as I reached up to play with my lump and found only a gaping chasm. There is of course the option of picking the scab, but that just causes bleeding, stares, and Ryan lecturing me on staph infections. A staph infection would even be too gross for my Mom. And that's saying something.


Bethany said...

Your mom should've come to Jake's mole removal before we left UT. That thing was like a second head. It was HUGE!

Amanda said...

Emily, I think my sister just dissed you! ;)

We don't call Dr. Soutiriou "Dr. Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am" for nothing!